Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

UAE set to host Pakistan Super League as solution is found to schedule conflict

In a surprise turnaround, the Pakistan Super League may take place in the UAE next year, after all.
Pakistan's Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi will be expected to play in the Pakistan Super League. Pawan Singh / The National
Pakistan's Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi will be expected to play in the Pakistan Super League. Pawan Singh / The National

The long and tortuous road to the first Pakistan Super League (PSL) has taken another twist, with a late development that may see the inaugural edition of the league take place in the UAE after all.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had announced Doha, Qatar as a venue for their long-gestating Twenty20 League. But meetings between their officials and those of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) over the last few days

Officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) met over the last couple of days in the UAE, and it is increasingly likely now that the decision to move to the UAE have made it increasingly likely that the PSL will be played in the UAE in February 2016.

That, of course, is what the PCB had always wanted, but tardiness in getting the league off the ground and booking venues in the UAE meant they were forced to look at alternative venues.

Specifically the emergence on the scene of the Masters Champions League (MCL), a Twenty20 league for retired international cricketers had caused a scheduling clash.

MCL organisers had booked the UAE’s three international venues for the league between February 4-20, the same time the PCB wanted the PSL to run. Initially, amid some friction with the ECB, the PCB decided to take the league to Doha.

Last week the MCL announced that up to 260 former cricketers had signed up for an auction to stand a chance to play in the league. Though until recently, the MCL had not been willing to shift the dates of its league, it is believed that the Dubai-based organisers may agree to stage their event earlier than planned.

Though the PCB’s decision to move to Doha was taken under fairly acrimonious circumstances at the time, with some officials talking sombrely of reassessing their long-term relationship with the ECB, it has emerged that communication on the issue had continued throughout.

The development, said one official, is partly an indication of the strength of the relationship between the two boards. The PCB has staged all of Pakistan’s home matches in the UAE since 2009 but the relationship goes back much further, to the start of international cricket in the region.

It will have helped as well that a Twenty20 league run by a Full Member that attracts some of the world’s biggest stars will bring enhanced financial benefits to the ECB and cricket in the country.

In recent days, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Kieiron Pollard and Sunil Narine have all signed up to be a part of five franchise sides. That is a big enough coup and it is likely other big names will follow.

A final decision has not been inked in just yet, but it is expected that an announcement will likely be made to this effect on Sunday, when the PCB holds the official launch event for the PSL in Lahore.

It will come as some relief to the PCB as well. Though they had remained bullish about the suitability of Doha as a venue to the last, staging 24 matches in one stadium — as Doha has only one — over two weeks in a country with a fledgling cricketing infrastructure was never an ideal situation.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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Updated: September 18, 2015 04:00 AM

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